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Negotiating A Rent Reduction On College Housing

Many students abhor the first of the month. Not because of class schedules, having to remember a new month or some pagan ritual, but because of the dreaded monthly rent check. Many students are under the false impression that the annual lease signing is their only opportunity to reduce the rent and that the rent itself is based on some mathematic calculation worked out between the landlord and the bank. Neither is true. In fact, you can hit your landlord up for a rent reduction at any time. But how and why would they agree to such a thing?

Your Situation

The first thing to do is to understand your lease and your tenancy. Have you signed a year lease? If not, or if you are in the month-to-month phase (or nearing renewal), then obviously your situation is open to negotiation.

Even if you are two-months into that twelve-month lease, are you a candidate to extend that lease? Are you a sophomore, expecting to be enrolled for your junior year? Do you pay your rent on time? Are you considerate of the property and your neighbors?

Late rent, extreme wear and tear, problems with neighbors are all quite costly for your landlord. Property owners factor these costs in to the long-term business plan for the property. If you’re reducing the expenses below the norm and are in a position to continue to do so, your landlord may very well be amenable to amending your current lease and offering you a lower rent.

Of course, you can trust in your landlord’s altruism, or you can go take the next step, which is to gather additional data to support your case.

Understand Your Rental Market

The rental market can vary greatly depending on where you are attending school. In some towns, the rental market is almost entirely dependent on the college’s student-body population. Other schools may be in the center of major metropolitan areas, in which case the rental market is likely driven by more macro-economic housing trends. Granted, rental properties near a college may act as a microcosm of the large market, swayed by the student-body population, but overall the effects will be muted by the macro-economic forces.

Understanding the rental market for the area in which you live is one of the keys to realizing rent reduction. If you live in an area that is largely dependent on student renters and enrollment for next year is on the wane, you’ve got leverage. If you live in an area that is largely driven by the macro-economic housing environment and house prices are falling, as is the case in many parts of the world today, odds are that more homeowners are choosing to rent their properties than sell them at a loss; you’ve got leverage.

Understand the drivers for your specific area and then collect facts. Not just about the general rental environment or about enrollment, but actually price some properties in your area. This can quickly be done on a weekend. Or, contact a local realtor. These people understand the market and likely have no affiliation with your landlord; a 30-minute conversation could quickly glean useful information such as the average rent per square-foot and the number of rental properties available in the area. Concrete information is obviously more influential than conjecture.

The Ask

Armed with an honest self-assessment of your tenancy and supportable market data, the next step is to arrange a time to discuss. Luckily, for most, there’s a prearranged monthly meeting that takes place to exchange funds (or something similar that can easily be turned into a discussion about rent reduction).

Present the information honestly and confidently. Odds are, if you’ve gotten to this point in the process, you have irrefutable evidence as to why the situation makes financial sense for both yourself and your landlord.

A good tenant who pays a bit less in a rough rental market is a considerably better proposition than the alternative. On your end, what do you have to lose?

Today’s guest article is provided by Rachel Oda. She is a financial blogger who encourages students to take control of their financial future, which includes asking for rent reductions, purchasing renters insurance and creating budgets.

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One Response to “Negotiating A Rent Reduction On College Housing”

  1. Don says:

    Students like us all need to be aware of implications of renting. Though they are young no better time than student life getting to grips with this. Its not all partying ! Thanks for this informative article.